Arts & Entertainment

Standing in front of Jay Gatsby (Robert Redford) at Port Jefferson Free Library's tea party are, from left, Linda Gavin; Earlene O’Hare; Carol Stalzer; Shirley Weiner; Stephanie Costanzo; Lucio Constanzo; Francesca Lutz; and Deborah O’Neil. Photo by Heidi Sutton

In celebration of the 90th anniversary of the publication of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s literary novel “The Great Gatsby,” the Friends of the Port Jefferson Free Library held a Gatsby Tea Party fundraiser on Wednesday, April 29.

Guests enjoyed a wonderful lunch and dessert and sipped tea from their favorite teacups. Shirley Weiner presented a lecture on F. Scott Fitzgerald and his literary works which was followed by a raffle drawing.

The Port Jefferson Historical Society loaned a period costume exhibit, featuring a flapper dress, a man’s tuxedo and a bridal trousseau, for the occasion.

Proceeds from the event will be used to fund projects at the library such as its Living Heritage programs, Dickens Festival events, music programs, Baby Book Welcome Bags, Vets Memorial Project, family carnival and more.

Chef Paolo Fontana demonstrates how to make pasta. Photo by Sue Wahlert

By Sue Wahlert

Chef Paolo Fontana emulates the true mantra of the Italians and cooking, “Pleasure equals eating.” The executive chef of the Simons Center for Geometry and Physics Café (SCGP), located on the campus of the State University of Stony Brook, he has created an epicurean delight in the midst of an institution that welcomes brilliant minds from across the world. This isn’t your typical university cafeteria, however. Here you will find the freshest ingredients combined with care to create lunches such as seared lamb loin with Indian spiced chickpea stew or roasted Scottish salmon with ratatouille. Sasha Abanov, deputy director of SCGP said, “This is the best café on campus. It is a great place to take our visitors.”

Aside from the wonderful bounty Fontana and his staff offer during the week, he also hosts the Culinary Master Series, a monthly live cooking demonstration open to the public held in the SCGP Café after hours. This evening event allows individuals who appreciate good food and love to cook to visit with Fontana as he tells stories about his passion and demonstrates techniques he’s learned through years of training and working with other chefs.

On Tuesday, April 7, Fontana held Is It Spring Yet?, the fifth in a series of seasonal cooking demonstrations. Held in the Café, guests are seated facing a large butcher-block table from which they view the Chef creating delicious dishes while being served a glass of sauvignon blanc or merlot wine. With the aid of a large flat-screen monitor and camera documenting the Chef’s work, visitors won’t miss anything he is preparing.

For $35 per person you can attend the SCGP Café’s Culinary Series and be rewarded with Fontana’s themed recipes, a food tasting and the opportunity to interact with the talented Chef. For Is It Spring Yet?, Fontana prepared fresh pasta, hollandaise sauce and panna cotta. Each guest receives a booklet with all the recipes for the evening, and the Chef welcomes questions while he is working.

As the lesson began, Fontana spoke about the “romance of making pasta on the tabletop.” Forming a carefully shaped mound of flour and organic eggs, he gently folded in freshly ground spinach to create beautifully colored pasta. He then demonstrated the kneading process and, after the dough rested, he cut a piece and fed it through a pasta machine attachment to create delicately thin sheets of pasta. He cut the sheets into ribbons of pasta ending the lesson. But there was more! The audience was treated to a dish of paglia e fieno — freshly made pasta with prosciutto, onions and peas coated in a cream sauce.

Like many impassioned chefs, Fontana likes to share stories about how he began his love affair with food. He fondly shared his “first culinary memory,” which was at the age of five when his parents took him to Italy. He recalled being in a wheat field from which stalks of wheat were pulled, soaked in water, rolled in flour and dried to create an original way of making pasta. He praises the use of only the freshest ingredients and the use of locally grown products when available. During the growing season, Fontana and his staff maintain an elaborate garden on the outside patio. It is not uncommon for the Café’s dishes to include homegrown tomatoes, green onions, garlic, lavender and more from their garden.

Two other dishes were demonstrated that evening ­— hollandaise sauce and, for dessert, panna cotta. “The hollandaise sauce is an emulsion sauce,” Fontana explained as he injected some of his scientific cooking knowledge into the lesson. “It is a great way to show your culinary skills,” he smiled. Made of egg yolks, butter and lemon juice, it is a hand-whisked sauce that takes time and concentration. While whisking he joked, “you’ll know if your hollandaise sauce is going wrong if it gets that ‘driveway after it rains’ look!” After a lot of muscle and perseverance by the Chef. the sauce was served to guests over fresh asparagus. Sounds of delight emanated from audience members as they sampled the dish.

The sweetness arrived last in the form of panna cotta, which means “cooked cream.” Using sheets of gelatin, heavy cream and half and half, this is not a dieter’s delight but instead a gift from the heavens. Served with a cherry sauce, this mound of silky smoothness topped off the wonderfully fun and informative evening.

It is evident that Fontana feels very fortunate to have the opportunity to share his gift with others. He credits Abanov as the person who encouraged the idea for these classes. “I am so lucky to be working around such smart people. I feel lucky to teach them something from my world,” said Fontana.

Recently chosen as the 2015 Edible Long Island’s Local Hero, Fontana shares this honor with manager Maria Reuge, dining room manager Julie Pasquier and his kitchen staff.

The last of the Culinary Master’s Series for this season is May 5 at 6 p.m. and is entitled What Else? It’s Cinco de Mayo, a fiesta of Mexican food. For reservations, call 631-632-2281 or purchase tickets online at http://bpt.me/1451646. The Café is located on the second floor of the Simons Center for Geometry and Physics at SUNY Stony Brook and is open to the public Mondays through Fridays from 8:30 to 10 a.m. for breakfast and 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. for lunch. Check out its website at http://scgp.stonybrook.edu/cafe or like it on Facebook at www.facebook.com/scgpcafe.

Children of the late Helen Stein Shack (Karen Shack Reid, Barbara Kelly, Edward Taylor and Sherry Cleary) stand with grand prize winners Leah Cussen and Wendy Wahlert and honorable mention winners Samuel Kim, Sarah Jiang, Karen Jiang and Anny Weisenberg. (Not present: honorable mention winner Kiera Alventosa). Photo from Emma S. Clark Library

By Erin Dueñas

As much as she loves reading books, Leah Cussen said it never occurred to her to try writing one. But leafing through the Emma S. Clark Memorial Library newsletter over the winter, Cussen saw an announcement for the Helen Stein Shack Picture Book Contest, which called on teens in grades seven through 12 to create a children’s book. “I wrote assignments for school and a few stories on my own, but creating a book was new to me,” Cussen said. “It seemed like a cool challenge.”

Taking inspiration from her 5-year- old brother’s bookshelves, Cussen wrote a book called “Lenny the Lion,” a story about a misfit who can’t roar as well as his brothers. Lenny sets out in the jungle looking for a family to fit in with. When he can’t swing from tree to tree like a monkey and reach the top leaves of a tree like a giraffe, Lenny realizes that he belongs with his lion family. “I liked the theme of being true to yourself,” Cussen said. “He realizes that his family loves him no matter what.”

“Lenny the Lion” won the Helen Stein Shack Picture Book Contest, along with the story “Lilabet” written by 17-yearold Wendy Wahlert. “Lilabet” is a story about a colorful young girl who lives in a “black, white and blah” world. Lilabet spreads her color around to change the town. Wahlert said that she got the idea for “Lilabet” based on her own thoughts about living in the suburbs, which she called black and white. “‘Lilabet’ is kind of how I feel. I’m the colorful person in the suburbs where every house is the same as the next,” she said. “There’s a reflection of myself in the story.”

Wahlert said she is more of an artist than a writer, illustrating “Lilabet” with large sweeping swaths of color inspired by paintings she saw at a coffee shop in New York City. “I like pop art, conceptual art,” she said. “I like a graphic and bold style with a flow of simple shapes. I tried to do that and I guess it worked,” she said of her story.

Chosen winners from a dozen entries, both girls received a $500 scholarship and read their books to a roomful of children at an awards reception on April 26. The library printed and bound a copy of each story to be included in its “Local Focus” collection. Both stories will also be turned into e-books. Honorable mention winners included Samuel Kim for his book “Freddy the Fish and the First Day of School,” Anny Weisenberg for “Red Boots for Rainy Days,” Kiera Alventosa for “Heal Our Mother Earth” and sisters Sarah and Karen Jiang for “Pengy Goes on an Adventure.”

This is the first year for the Helen Stein Shack award, according to Shack’s daughter Sherry Cleary, who said that her mother would volunteer to read to kids and teach them to read in her spare time. “My mother loved this library. She would always say to people, ‘You should see my library’ or ‘Let’s go to the library,’” Cleary said. “She used to say if you could read and read for joy, you would have a successful life.”

When Shack passed away more than a year ago, Cleary and her siblings approached the library looking for a way to mark her life and the idea of the book contest came up. “We just wanted to honor her,” she said. “The students in the community rose to the occasion. These are just stunning books.”

Cussen said that winning the contest means a lot. “I want to do writing when I’m older so now I’m thinking what if I could write stories,” she said. “It broadened my ideas for my career in writing.”

Wahlert said being a published author is “pretty awesome.” “It gives me more confidence that people appreciate what I’m doing,” she said.

Library director Ted Gutmann said that all the entries showed great talent and the one word that came to mind in reading the stories was imagination. “Imagination will take you everywhere,” he said. “These kids have the imagination and I hope they never lose it.”

From left, Ray Palen, Gabriella Stevens and Mikal Oltedal in a scene from ‘The Man Who Came To Dinner.’ Photo by Michael Leinoff

By Charles J. Morgan

In the sometimes arcane lexicon of the theatah there is the term “chestnut.” It simply refers to a good or actually immortal play that is done every season everywhere. It has long-standing universal appeal, and is audience friendly even when translated into Gheg, Tusk or Urdu. Such a play is George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart’s “The Man Who Came to Dinner,” currently playing at the Minstrel Players’ venue in Northport for a limited run.

Set in 1939, the script is literally flooded with references associated with that era …. Haile Selassie, John L. Lewis, “Bubu” (Mahatma Gandhi), Charles Ross and even Noel Coward with a fast-paced output, wise-cracking, display of humor.

Director Ray Palen starred as the impossibly rude Sheridan Whiteside, a cultured, scholarly writer, pundit and author. Homer described Odysseus as speaking “winged words.” Whiteside’s words are winged too … laden with nuclear warheads. He demolishes any opposition with piercing, barbed onslaughts. Palen discharged his role as Whiteside expertly, consistently — like a lovable Falstaff. He is very seldom offstage and manages the signature wheelchair right up to the edge of the apron.

Michelle Torres plays Maggie Cutler, Whiteside’s long-suffering but capable secretary. Torres handled this role with called-up on professional aplomb even in a scene where she “quits” her job. Here she is still underplaying it, but with steely, scarcely concealed anger.

The Minstrels’ dynamic veteran character actress Maris Kastan is Miss Preen, Whiteside’s nurse. She plays out the dutiful nurse like someone hit with a baseball bat, but can’t figure out what hit her. That is until she dramatically resigns with a downstage center speech about going to work in a munitions factory. Kastan, together with Palen, is an outstanding example of getting into the essence of a role, making the acting real.

Banjo, a true slapstick role, is managed neatly by Ralph Carideo. He really eats up the scenery, combining an earthy Rabelaisian Vaudeville humor, delivered with punch and verve. Then we have Alicia James as glamor girl movie star Lorraine Sheldon. She is in love with one person: herself. Every line and move is promotional of a solitary object named Lorraine. She is frivolous, sexy, with a virtual murder streak … all of it with a compelling smile. This is not an easy role, but James handled it with perfection.

A triple role was held by Brian Hartwig. He was the eccentric Professor Metz in topee, tropical jacket and spectacles who delivers a cockroach colony. (Yes, they do eventually escape.) He has a  bit part as Expressman, but bursts into a key role as Beverly Carlton, a knockoff of Noel Coward done to English accent languidity with all the sophistication Noel himself could have brought. Hartwig’s range of talent was palpable. One wishes to see him more on the Minstrels’ playbill.

Constraints of space preclude mention of others in this massive cast, however, Evan Donnellan stood out as Bert Jefferson, Tricia Ieronimo as Mrs. Stanley and Jim Connors as her long-suffering husband. A curtain call bow was taken by Valerie Rowe who undertook the role of Sara the Cook as a last-minute substitute. Well done!

The Minstrel Players may be a little cramped in their present venue, yet they have expanded smoothly with this show. One sees a massively bright future for them. Break a leg, Minstrels!

The Minstrel Players will present “The Man Who Came To Dinner” on May 2 at 8 p.m. and May 3 at 3 p.m. at the Houghton Hall Theatre at Trinity Episcopal Church, 130 Main St., Northport. Tickets are $20 adults, $15 seniors and children. For more information, call 631-732-2926 or visit www.minstrelplayers.org.

Taste of Long Island will feature wine and beer tastings, among other events. Stock photo

By Jenni Culkin

One of Long Island’s most prominant annual culinary events is featuring famous chefs and reviewers as a new addition for its 12th year.

Tonight, Thursday, April 23, the Larkfield in East Northport will be hosting A Taste of Long Island, from 6:30 to 10 p.m. This year, three celebrity chefs, 2013 “MasterChef” winner Luca Manfe, Rob Burmeister from “Chopped” and “Cutthroat Kitchen” and “Hell’s Kitchen” contestant Barret Beyer, are going to be attending the event. Throughout the night, the chefs will be available to mingle and chat with the other attendees.

More than 25 restaurants have signed up and the number has been steadily growing, including eateries like California Pizza Kitchen, The Crossroads Cafe, the original Fireside Caterers, Nisen Sushi and many more.

New to this year’s event, the entries from the participating restaurants will be divided into four categories: most creative dish, best table presentation, tastiest dish and people’s choice. The celebrity guests will judge the people’s choice category during the evening.

“There’s wine and beer tasting, there’s going to be entertainment music in every room and amazing raffle baskets,” said Loriann Pineo, executive director of the East Northport Chamber of Commerce, the group organizing the event.

The proceeds from this event will be used to benefit important causes at groups such as Rotary International, Visiting Nurse Service and Hospice of Suffolk and the East Northport Chamber of Commerce. Tickets are $75 each. They will be $85 at the door.

Call the East Northport Chamber of Commerce for your tickets at  631-261-3573.

Johnny Cuomo sings to a group of children at the 2013 Middle County Public Library Apple Festival in Centereach. Photo by Kristin Cuomo

By Sue Wahlert

It’s quite possible that Mount Sinai’s Johnny Cuomo lives, breathes and sleeps music. Added to his life’s obsession are his love of cultures, nature, children and storytelling. He is a multidimensional music man who is lovingly known to many as “Mr. C.” As he says in his online introduction video, he is “deeply connected with nature, music, children and stories for children.”

However, there is even more to Cuomo than his guitar or his penny whistle.  There is a wisdom that lives within him.  It is a culmination of family vacations to the National Parks, his time spent volunteering on Indian Reservations in California and backpacking and studying abroad in Ireland, his dedication to religion and his need to make music. With all of this information, he has made it his life’s work to share his knowledge with children and adults through his musical storytelling profession and his performances in Irish Pubs.

At a very young age, Cuomo’s Stony Brook family began laying the groundwork for the man he has become.

“My parents had me interested in wolves, birds and bears,” said Cuomo. In college, Cuomo discovered the world of bird watching and is now an avid watcher. He uses his knowledge to incorporates tales of birds into some of his early childhood education programs.

Because Cuomo was exposed to history at a very young age, he was open to the experiences of volunteering at the Vieajas and Barona Indian Reservations in San Diego. “At night I would hang out with the elders. This enabled me to learn about their cultures and share my culture,” reflected Cuomo. This was also the first time Cuomo had the opportunity to work with children. “It solidified my love of working with children,” he said.

Cuomo’s love of Irish music was ignited during the two months he spent backpacking in Ireland, where he carried his belongings and a guitar. “I wanted to learn stories, music and history of the Irish,” he said. Upon returning home, he knew he had to go back, but this time would be via a study abroad program.  During his eight months of study, Cuomo learned to play the tin whistle, banjo and mandolin, and began performing Irish music.

In the late 1990s, Cuomo formed the popular Irish band, Gallowglass. Although they are no longer together, the musicians sometimes collaborate.  Currently you can see Cuomo on most Sunday nights performing Irish music at the Pig ‘n’ Whistle on 2nd Ave. in New York City.

Cuomo understands the vital importance of music in the life of children and adults. He offers private instruction and also has a wide range of children’s programs for Preschoolers through 12th grade. For more than seven years, Cuomo has been doing a weekly music program at the Chatterbox Day School in East Islip.

Director Lindsay Parker said of Cuomo, “The children look forward to their weekly music classes with “Mr. C.” They are fun, creative and exciting. Johnny brings a new dimension to children’s music that is rare to find!”
You might also find Cuomo on stage at the outdoor classroom at Play Groups School in East Setauket, strumming on his guitar while the preschoolers act out musical stories as they sing and dance.  Educational Director Maddy Friedman applauds Cuomo, saying “he is an exceptional music educator who brings his joy and love of music to our school.” Cuomo is scheduled to perform at the school’s annual May Fair on May 30.

Since 2000, Cuomo has also shared his talents at the Comprehensive Kids Developmental School, a public, special needs preschool on the lower east side of Manhattan. The opportunity to work with the special needs population has impressed upon Cuomo the importance of therapeutic music. “I can reach these kids with my music,” said Cuomo. “I have a special drum I use, where they can feel the vibration, and also a whistle, so they can feel the air move. It is a gift to be able to work with these kids.” Annemarie Fuschetti, the school’s former psychologist, said of Cuomo, “Everyone lights up when Johnny comes. Even those with the most difficult behaviors.”

One might wonder how one person can do all of this? Cuomo laughed as he said, “I have a number of part-time jobs that add up to more than a full-time job. I have traded sleep for time with my family.” His two boys, Johnny, 7, and Paul, 6, are also music lovers and have been to hundreds of their father’s gigs.  Recently, Cuomo was invited to play at Walt Disney World with a group of fellow Irish musicians. Fortunately his wife and sons were invited to be part of this journey, to experience the park and see Cuomo play an Irish music and dance show at Raglan Road Irish Pub in Downtown Disney.

More recently, Cuomo signed with manager Jean Marie Keevins of Little Shadow Productions. Keevins will serve as a liaison to other writers and companies with whom Cuomo might be able to collaborate and sell his original ideas to. The professional arena is wide open, from books to theater to animation. It is an exciting time for the artist.

Additionally, Cuomo is excited to be heading off to Alaska this July for the Fairbanks Summer Arts Festival, where he will be teaching workshops and playing concerts focused on traditional Irish and American Folk music.

To top it off, the never weary Cuomo and his wife Kristin will be running their weeklong summer program, “Birds of a Feather Nature Camp.” Based out of the Setauket Neighborhood House, they have been running this outdoor program for more than 13 years. “We want to get kids to go outside and observe all that is here locally. It is an opportunity to see what’s in your backyard,” said Cuomo. The camp combines music, nature, crafts and hiking, all of which encourage kids to connect with nature and music.

Check out Cuomo’s website at www.johnnycuomo.com to learn more about his programs, listen to some of his CDs and check on upcoming shows. Any time spent with Cuomo is a time to remember, as his stories and music live on in the minds and hearts of many.

By Rita J. Egan

With the inventions of camera phones and social media, capturing the image of family members and friends is easier than ever. Even taking a photo of oneself is as simple as a quick click with a smartphone. Today’s version of the self-portrait, the selfie, has become so popular, reality television star Kim Kardashian has dedicated her soon-to-be released book, “Selfish,” to the art form, and last year the electric dance music DJ duo The Chainsmokers released their song “#Selfie.”

However, before social media and the Kardashians, even prior to the creation of the camera, artists have preserved the images of their fellow human beings and themselves for centuries. To celebrate the art of creating portraits, The Heckscher Museum of Art in Huntington offers two new portraiture exhibits starting April 25 — Before Selfies: Portraiture through the Ages and Poised Poses: Portraits from the August Heckscher Collection.

‘Self Portrait in Cape,‘ 1934, Heckscher Museum of Art, Gift of Audrey Webster. by Stokely Webster
‘Self Portrait in Cape,‘ 1934, Heckscher Museum of Art, Gift of Audrey Webster. by Stokely Webster

Lisa Chalif, museum curator, said it’s the perfect time for portraiture exhibits in this age of the selfie. “With the increasing use of social media, selfies stick in the news all the time. It’s so visible now, that it seems it sort of lends itself naturally to taking a look at portraiture historically. Before the age of your cell phone and the selfie, how did you get the likeness of yourself? Before the advent of photography really, how did you preserve your likeness?”

The Before Selfies exhibit, which includes both portraits and self-portraits donated by various individuals to the museum throughout the years, features approximately four dozen pieces by artists such as Thomas Anshutz, William Merritt Chase, Henri Matisse and 19th-century Long Island painter William Sidney Mount. Chalif said most of the portraits are from the 16th through 20th centuries with a few pieces from this century, and the pieces include oil paintings, pen and ink drawings on paper, chromogenic prints, bronze and marble sculptures as well as other mediums.

The curator said the exhibit not only focuses on the artists’ depictions of family, friends, public figures and character types but also takes a look at themes such as changing concepts of beauty and different approaches to depicting male and female subjects depending on underlying gender roles.

The Poised Poses: Portraits from the August Heckscher Collection exhibit complements the Before Selfies exhibit and features paintings from the museum founder’s private collection, which he donated in 1920.

Chalif said Heckscher had an extensive collection of historical European portraiture. The oil paintings on canvas and wood panels on display at the exhibit are by artists such as Sir William Beechey, George Romney, Antoine Vollon, Nicholas de Largilliere and Franz Wolfgang Rohrich.

When it comes to what she hopes visitors will learn from the exhibits, Chalif said, “A larger understanding of the portrait, of saving your appearance. What are you conveying when you are snapping a selfie, and how does that differ from historical portraiture? Just a larger sense of how to read a portrait, what does it convey beyond what somebody looked like? What can I learn about a period of history or the history of fashion? Just all the different ways that artists might convey something, information beyond somebody’s appearance.”

In honor of the museum’s two portraiture exhibits, there will be a selfie station for visitors where they can create their own portraits. Guests are also encouraged to share their images from the station on Instagram and use the hashtags #hmaselfie and #heckschermuseum.

Before Selfies: Portraiture through the Ages runs from April 25 through Aug. 9, and Poised Poses: Portraits from the August Heckscher Collection runs from April 25 through Aug. 2. The Heckscher Museum of Art is located at 2 Prime Avenue in Huntington and is open Wednesdays through Fridays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturdays and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, call 631-351-3250.

From left, Bobby Montaniz, Amanda Geraci and James D. Schultz in ‘The Littlest Pirate.’ Photo by Peter Lanscombe, Theatre Three Productions, Inc.

Avast ye! Theatre Three’s world premiere of the musical adventure, “The Littlest Pirate,” which opened last Saturday, takes us from a baseball diamond to a treasure hunt on Diamond Isle and is a rollicking home run.

Written by Tim Peierls and Jeffrey Sanzel, the play tells the story of Annalise, a young girl who wants to play on the Petaluma Pirates Little League baseball team who are always losing to the Rovers from Roger’s Refrigeration. When the coach tells her that the only way she can be on the team is to cheat, Annalise is torn between playing a sport she loves and doing the right thing. She falls asleep on a bench and is swept away into a Pirate Dreamland where she faces the same dilemma when she encounters a band of pirates who want her to switch a real treasure map with a fake one.

Sanzel, who also directed the show, has gathered an enormously talented group of seven adult actors who all tackle duel roles with inexhaustible energy. The petite Amanda Geraci is the perfect choice to play Annalise, the littlest pirate. An incredible actress and singer, Geraci’s solo, “Always Wanted to Play Baseball,” is amazing.

James D. Schultz shines as Coach Wallop and Captain Pyrate who only speaks Pyrish. The one and only Bobby Montaniz is hilarious as he tells numerous jokes as Bobbo and Pirate Parrot. Hans Paul Hendrickson plays the role of twins, Fred and Norville and the Pirate Forvilles, which wasn’t an easy task, but he pulls it off with ease. Jenna Kavaler is wonderful as Jenny, the Petaluma Pirates’ best baseball player who really just wants to play the oboe. Evelyne Lune, as Erin Petaluma and The Pirate Queen, is the all-knowing matriarch of the group and switches roles effortlessly. Rounding out the cast is Andrew Gasparini as Boyd and Pirate Boyd, a terrific actor who has found his own niche on stage and clearly enjoys what he’s doing.

Although the set is minimal with only a few props, costume designer Margaret Ward has spared no expense with matching baseball uniforms and colorful pirate outfits. Choreographed by Marquéz Stewart and accompanied on piano by Peierls and on bass by David Goldberg, the musical numbers are superb, especially “How to Speak Pyrish” and the delightful “Great Day for a Treasure Hunt,” which you will be humming on your way out of the theater.

As with most children’s shows at Theatre Three, there are moral lessons sprinkled throughout the performance. In this case, kids will learn about cheating and the everlasting lesson of “it’s not whether you win or lose, it’s how you play the game.” It is no easy task getting a young audience to sit still for periods at a time, but “The Littlest Pirate” does the trick. No restlessness here  — just children sitting wide-eyed on the edge of their seats, enthralled by the enchantment of live theater. Kids of all ages will enjoy “The Littlest Pirate.” It is funny, entertaining and a great way to spend a Saturday morning.

The entire cast will be in the lobby after the show for a meet and greet and photo opportunities.

Theatre Three, 412 Main St., Port Jefferson will present “The Littlest Pirate” on Saturday mornings at 11 a.m. through May 9. Tickets are $10 per person. For more information, call 631-928-9100 or visit www.theatrethree.com.

‘Short But Sweet,’ the butterfly bra created by Tammy Colletti in memory of her mother. Photo by Erin Dueñas

By Erin Dueñas

Covered in feathers, decorated in shells and bedazzled in rhinestones, the bras on display at the Wang Center at Stony Brook University last Thursday looked like they could have been part of the latest collection from an eccentric lingerie designer. The bras were actually created by members of the community, local businesses, cancer survivors and television personalities as part of Bodacious Bras for a Cure, a fundraising event to benefit women’s cancer programs at Stony Brook Cancer Center.

Dr. Michael Pearl says the services offered to cancer patients involved in the cancer center help to restore some control in their lives. Photo by Erin Duenas
Dr. Michael Pearl says the services offered to cancer patients involved in the cancer center help to restore some control in their lives. Photo by Erin Duenas

Bodacious Bras was initiated by Linda Bily, director of Cancer Patient Advocacy and the Woman to Woman program at the center and inspired by a similar event called Creative Cups at Adelphi University. Bras were decorated and then put up for auction at the Stony Brook event. “It’s just a fun, different way of promoting awareness of all women’s cancers,” Bily said.

Twenty-two bras were auctioned off, raising $5,000 that will help fund women’s patient services at the Cancer Center.

According to Bily, each bra entry had to be created on a size 36C garment. Nothing perishable was permitted on the creations and the entire bra needed to be decorated. A brief summary accompanied each bra explaining the creator’s motivation. The “Mandala” bra, which fetched $250, created by local artist Jessica Randall, was made of shells and won the Best in Show prize. “I made this bra,” Randall’s summary read, “to honor women who have struggled with the debilitating disease of breast cancer.” “That Meatball Place” bra was created by the restaurant of the same name, located in Patchogue. Featuring bows and rhinestones and the restaurant’s logo, the bra fetched $500 at the auction. “Whichever [meatball] style suits you, we support them all, while always saving room for hope of a cure,” that summary read. Another bra called the “Hooter Holster” was created by Port Jefferson Station native Clinton Kelly, co-host of  “The Chew.”

22 bras were featured at Bodacious Bras for a Cure bringing in $5000 to fund women’s cancer services. Photo by Erin Duenas
22 bras were featured at Bodacious Bras for a Cure bringing in $5000 to fund women’s cancer services. Photo by Erin Duenas

Tammy Colletti of Setauket made a bra called “Short But Sweet” dedicated to her mother Marion who passed away a year and a half ago. Using purple and teal feathers, the bra was made to look like a butterfly. A small vial containing a piece of paper that read “Cure Breast Cancer” rested in the center in between the feathers.

Colletti, who volunteers at the Cancer Center, said she was inspired to create a butterfly bra after watching her mother live out the remainder of her life in hospice care. “When they brought her in to hospice she was all wrapped up, and I told her it looked like she was in a cocoon,” Colletti said. When she passed away, Colletti imagined her mother shedding that cocoon and turning into a butterfly. “She was transformed into something beautiful, into something that I know is flying all around us.”

The Cancer Center provides a wide variety of support to ill patients to help them cope with a cancer diagnosis. In the Woman to Woman program, patients can get help with childcare, transportation to treatments, financial assistance to pay for costs associated with being ill and selecting wigs if needed.

Dr. Michael Pearl, professor of medicine and chief of the Division of Gynecologic Oncology, said that a cancer diagnosis has a huge impact not just on the woman affected but on her family as well. “In a lot of families, the woman acts as the glue that keeps everything together,” Pearl said. When a woman gets sick, often the day-to-day operations of family life get disrupted. That is when the Woman to Woman program can step in.

“We have volunteers that provide active support services,” Pearl said. Services could even include driving a patient’s children to sports or band practice. “Getting sick takes away your control. The program tries to restore some control and normalcy into their day-to-day lives.”

Bily said she was expecting Bodacious Bras to take a while to catch on, but she was happy with the positive response of the event. “It was a great night,” she said. “People who designed a bra are already thinking about what they will make next year.”

From left, Samantha Carroll, Jay McKenzie and Bobby Peterson in a scene from ‘Violet’ at the SCPA. Photo by Theresa Grillo

By Charles J. Morgan

The noir musical “Violet,” based on the short story “The Ugliest Pilgrim” by Doris Betts, opened last Saturday at the Smithtown Center for the Performing Arts. But what is a noir musical? Is it an opera, rock or otherwise? Is it sad, heart-rending, tragic, on a level with “La Bohème”? Your scribe suggests it is somewhere between Rossini’s effort and the recent “Murder Ballard” — the former an illustrious work of art, the latter the apotheosis of poor taste. “Violet,” therefore, is a middle ground, standing across the road as a signpost directing the theatrical traveler to the crossroads of mediocrity. Take one of the forks: aesthetic satisfaction; take the other —  “…’n I wuz like wow!”

There are noir motion pictures too. They all occur in one noir night, in noir and white and always have plot lines involving a murder solution. It makes one wonder why noir musicals are penned in the first place. Presumably they were intended to pitch shock and schlock into the roiling sea of praise poured onto the “happy ending” dance and song of the major hits. In your scribe’s not-so-humble opinion, “Violet” is a classically flawed work hinging on the fact of a young girl’s face horribly disfigured by a flying axe blade. At this juncture one could rank it with the Parisian Theatre Guignol.

Now then, standing back from all of the above, there was the indomitable Ken Washington direction. As his ever present skills reveal, interpretation and blocking were kept well ahead of the pursuing nemesis stasis. A pitfall of the one-set production is always a threat, but Washington came through. He handled the individuation of characters by giving them fast and slow motion that kept the boards well trod.

In the obviously starring role of Violet was Samantha Carroll. In singing and acting she was outstanding. With a fetching stage presence, she coupled this with a delightful soprano voice. With scarcely an exit she was easily the jeweled bearing on which the dynamic of the show rotated.

Two male singers vied for her attention … her complete attention. One, a sergeant; the other a Tech 4. The sergeant (Flick) was Jay McKenzie, the Tech 4 (Monty) was Bobby Peterson. McKenzie was the cool, veteran soldier with a strong tenor. In Act II his duet with Carrol was very impressive.

Peterson was more than just a foil for the sergeant. His voice was robust with a lyric tenor closeness that expressed his simple love for Violet. Michael Bertolini doubled as the bus driver and, in a powerful cameo, a corrupt Bible-thumper. He sang and danced with a group of pretend Bible singers. Viewing it your scribe felt Catholics in the audience would wear a wry grin; Evangelicals would have picketed that “preacher’s” performance.

As Young Violet, Hayleigh Jusas revealed excellent stage presence and a strong voice. In the “preacher” segment one ultra-powerful voice stood out: that of Amanda Camille Isaac. It was powerful, smooth and wrought with strength that not only expressed her religious fervor but rattled the rafters.

Music was live under the direction of Melissa Coyle with Craig Coyle on second keyboard, Ron Curry on bass, Jim Waddell on drums. Tiffany Jordan on cello, Brad Bosenbeck on violin and two guitars handled by Ray Sabatello and Douglas Baldwin provided palpable background, effecting it all with no brass.

“Violet” was a completely well-executed noir piece. It was balanced with other than rock, pertinent, believable recitatives and tender solos. To your scribe it was a critical challenge. To the audience it was a treat.

The Smithtown Center for the Performing Arts, 2 E. Main St., Smithtown, will present ‘Violet’ through May 17. Tickets are $35 adults, $20 students. For more information, call 631-724-3700 or visit www.smithtownpac.org.

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